Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a condition in which consuming gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some other grains — leads, in susceptible people, to damage to the lining of the small intestine, resulting in the inability to properly absorb nutrients into the body. This can lead to many different symptoms, including fatigue, malaise (feeling generally poorly), bloating, and diarrhea.
Left untreated or insufficiently treated, celiac disease can lead to damage to other organs. If properly treated, celiac disease typically leads to absolutely nothing! In your travels, you may see the word celiac spelled as coeliac. Both terms refer to the same condition. Celiac is the spelling far more commonly used in North America. Incidentally, the term celiac (or coeliac) comes from the Greek word Koila, which refers to the abdomen.
Doctors have known about celiac disease for a long time. Articles describing individuals suffering from diarrhea (most likely due to what we now call celiac disease) first appeared over two thousand years ago. It was, however, Dr. Samuel Gee who, in London, England in 1887, first described the condition in detail and even presciently observed that successful therapy was to be found in changing a patient’s diet.
Living and Thriving with Celiac Disease
Although people living with celiac disease share many similar challenges, differences exist for some people based on age, living condition (home or in a college dorm for instance), and special circumstances such as attempting to conceive, or being pregnant.
Perhaps it’s been some time since you were diagnosed with celiac disease and you are nicely on track with your gluten-free existence. What then? Do you need to be monitored for celiac disease-related health issues? If so, how should the monitoring be done? Better ways of managing celiac disease may emerge in the future. Indeed, there may come a time when you may not need to follow a gluten-free diet. There are and other possible options for dealing with celiac disease that may come about someday.